*Only enemies of Nigeria oppose restructuring— Afenifere
*We’re not surprised by Northern Elders’ comments
By Dapo Akinrefon, Omeiza Ajayi & Olayinka Ajayi
The Northern Elders Forum, NEF, has described Nigeria’s presidential system of government as “totally useless,” and expressed its readiness to engage other parts of the country in a debate on Nigeria’s future, saying it was ready for the restructuring of the country.
Convener of the Forum, Professor Ango Abdullahi, stated this in a telephone interview with Vanguard, weekend.
Abdullahi, who expressed the preference of the North for a return to the parliamentary system of government, said the current presidential system had caused more division than uniting the country.
Abdullahi said: “Today, we may appear to have a federal system of government but we are truly not because these federating units are not viable, they are not functional, they are only functional from one point.
“Maybe we talk about the even more complicating factor that moved us from parliamentary that was quite democratic to the current so-called presidential system of government.
“If today I am involved in discussions in terms of how to restructure Nigeria, bring back democracy under a federal system that would allow federating units take decisions that are largely their own initiatives, then we have to move away from this presidential system and go back to parliamentary because the parliamentary system was working.
“You would not be a minister or a commissioner if you are talking about regions, until you were elected from your village. What is happening here now is totally useless.
“I can assure you that the North, at least from my own perspective and the perspectives of many groups in the North, is ready to engage in serious discussions as to how to reshape the Nigerian state to something that is better for not only now but also for the future generations that will be coming behind us,” he stated.
We welcome their decision — Afenifere
Reacting, Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, has described as welcome the declaration of Leader of the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, Professor Abdullahi, that the North is now ready for restructuring and would prefer a return to the parliamentary system of government with strong federating units as it was at independence.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “We welcome their decision as only the enemies of the country would be against restructuring at this point.
“We have to get the job done quickly to extend the life span of the country and create a happy order as we can’t continue this way.”
I’m not surprised about his comments — Shonibare
Acting National Chairman of Social Democratic Party, SDP, Chief Supo Shonibare, said he was not surprised over Professor Ango Abdullahi’s position.
His words: “I recall Professor Ango Abdullahi acknowledging the wastefulness of a presidential system in a private discussion we both had about five years ago.
“So, I am not surprised about his comments supporting restructuring and parliamentary system of government.
“Apart from the enormous expenses in running a presidential system, the notion of concentrating so much powers on the person occupying the position of President is not a commendable template of governance for developing countries, where institutions are at an establishment stage.
“The American Constitution, which we were taking as our template, was devised by those who were looking at a democratic monarchial structure in reproducing their European system of governance from where they all originated from.
“The presidential system is definitely not suitable for our polity. The parliamentary system reduces the cost of governance. A President under the parliamentary system can be removed without going into a general election.
“Ministers and parliamentarians are all in one chamber, there is a fusion of governance.”